Haftarah: Obadiah 1: 1-21
NOVEMBER 15-16, 2013 16 KISLEV 5774
"And it came to pass as her soul was departing - for she had died." (Beresheet 35:18)
Rachel Imenu passed away tragically at a young age during childbirth. The Zohar says the reason she passed away young was due to a statement made by Ya'akob Abinu. When Ya'akob left Laban's home to return to his homeland, he left without informing Laban. Laban pursued Ya'akob and when he finally caught up with Ya'akob, he accused Ya'akob of stealing his idols. Ya'akob was sure no one had stolen his idols, so he said, "With whomever you find your gods, he shall not live" (Beresheet 31:32). Little did he know that Rachel had stolen the idols. The Angel of Death took the words of Ya'akob and used them to hurt Rachel until she passed away. From here we learn how important it is to be careful with one's words. Do not say anything that gives an opening to the Angel of Death. This is even more important concerning a Torah scholar, because his words are more potent, as we can see with Ya'akob, who declared that the thief should die even though he didn't know that it was Rachel who took them.
We find great Rabbis who were very careful not to speak derogatorily about Jews despite the fact that they desecrated the Shabbat. Rabbi Aharon Rokeach zt"l, the late Belzer Rebbe, was speaking about secular Jews. He described them as "Jews who don't differentiate between Shabbat and Sunday." In his eyes they were holy Jewish people who, due to circumstances beyond their control, didn't know better. He was careful not to speak down about them even in a situation where he was involved in a battle for the sake of Torah. Our words have great effect. Use them with care.
Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Esav said, 'I have plenty'…And Ya'akob said, 'I have everything'" (Beresheet 33:9-11)
When Esav saw the lavish gift given to him by his brother, Ya'akob, he tried to demur and say he has plenty, he doesn't need this gift. However, Ya'akob insisted and in his statement back to Esav, he said, "I have everything." This slight contrast in their attitude towards materialism says much about their different values and priorities. Esav, who favors this world and all of its alluring possessions, says he has plenty. He may have a tremendous amount, but he still says it's only plenty, not all. There's always room for more! Ya'akob, whose goal in life is to become closer to Hashem, using his worldly possessions to achieve spiritual accomplishments, says, "I have it all! Everything I have is enough for me. I am not missing anything!"
There is a fellow who was buying a new car, and after weeks of shopping and planning, finally got the one he was looking for. The right color, the right interior, and all of the right accessories, as much as he could afford. His happiness lasted one day, because the next day, his neighbor bought the higher priced model with all the new gadgets, and parked it right next door. The first one who bought the car that he could afford all of a sudden lost his excitement because he didn't have it all!
Are we similar to Esav, who could always use more and are not happy with what we have because something can always be added, or are we like Ya'akob, that whatever we have is everything? Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
When I was young, a boy with a magnifying glass could easily be the center of attention during recess or after school. He would gather his friends, get a piece of paper, and focus a beam of bright sunlight through the magnifier until it was concentrated on one tiny spot. Seconds later the paper would start to burn ,and his friends would shower him with accolades as if he had just hit a game-winning home run.
The boy's great feat was really not so difficult. It was merely a matter of concentrating the sun's power on a single spot.
In contrast, many of us can't focus our energy on the spot where it will be most effective. Overwhelmed with multiple responsibilities, and surrounded by "time-saving" devices that, in actuality, consume out time, we try to do it all - simultaneously. As we attempt to multi-task, we pile up lists of unfinished business and incomplete projects until our "to do" list becomes overwhelming and meaningless.
The trick to success is to focus your energy on the task at hand. When you are reading, you should not be listening to the radio, and when you are eating, you should not be reading. Whenever you are involved in something, do it to the exclusion of all other distractions that come your way. Turn off your electronic interrupters when praying, working on a project, or having a serious conversation.
When you are involved in something and an "intruder" tries to interrupt, finish what you're doing! Do it well, and then you can attend to something else. Your concentrated efforts will unleash powers that will enhance your success rate day after day. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
Call to 646-279-8712 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (Privacy of email limited by the email address)
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